by Jake Inman
The first day of class went great!
After I walked the campers to class, I and the instructors — Ron Skillern and Jonathan Vaughn —introduced ourselves to them and jumped straight into discussion. Mr. Skillern asked the students a few simple questions : Why should we study the Holocaust? Could there be another Holocaust? Is the internet an insulator against another Holocaust event? These questions sparked an in-depth discussion about current events, racism, and immigration that was both respectful and insightful. In a class with so many students, there are bound to be differing political and ideological backgrounds. I was incredibly impressed at the maturity that these students showed toward this topic and their fellow students’ opinions.
After this discussion, we began the “getting to know each other” portion of class. We had the students pair up with people they didn’t already know and ask each other in-depth interview questions about their background, their likes and dislikes, their ambitions, etc. After the interviews were concluded, they introduced each other to the rest of the class. This method was a good way to both let everyone find out about each other and have each student begin to make personal connections with new people.
We broke for lunch, and then when we returned, we delved into the specifics of the D.C. trip we are taking next week. Three classes at VAMPY will be going up to Washington D.C. on July 5 for unique learning experiences. Our class will be getting the opportunity to spend the day at the Holocaust Museum. Many of our students have not had the chance to go in the past. I’m sure that after spending a week and a half studying this subject, the museum will be an extremely powerful experience.
Our final discussion of the day delved into the question of authority. Specifically, Mr. Skillern asked the students if it would be possible for them to do what the Nazis did if they were ordered to. After a great discussion with many different viewpoints, we showed the students a short movie called “The Wave.” This was a true story about a social experiment conducted by a teacher at a high school in the 60s that demonstrated how the German people could possibly follow the Nazis into the atrocities that were being committed. I look forward to discussing the campers’ thoughts surrounding this film tomorrow. If the first day is any indication, the next three weeks will be just as great and memorable as today!